A new month means new books and there's nothing like diving into some historical fiction as a way to get a new month started off right. (Not to mention I may be a wee bit stressed and any type of relaxing is most welcome in my books!)
Until the Dawn, introduces readers to Dierenpark, an abandoned mansion - save the loyal staff who maintain it and one Sophie van Riijn who makes their meals and maintains a weather station on the roof. When the long absent owners return following an unexplained tragedy 60 years prior, life at Dierenpark and the surrounding village faces an uncertain future due to the Vandermark "curse".
For Sophie, the curse bears far more personal implications as she sorts out her relationship with the foreboding Quentin Vandermark.
Overall, this was a fun read.
It had the marks of a standard historical fiction - including the innocent young maiden who retained her faith in light of hardship and the dark brooding man who enters her life. The addition of Pieter was a welcome one as his sweet and innocent conversations with Sophie provided room for character growth, depth, and faith based conversations to feel more natural and less contrived.
For myself, Until the Dawn moved into memorable territory thanks to the depth of these characters, Camden's willingness to show their pain and confusion, and a lovely plot the complete ending of which did surprise me in the end.
Although the character types are familiar to this genre, I really did enjoy the trio of Sophie, Quentin, and Pieter. The characters all showed growth over the course of the story and held strongly memorable personalities within their given roles.
Also, I found these characters believable within their environment. Sophie wasn't just the Vandermark's guide but the readers, sharing her childhood haunts with the readers. Pieter, in turn, gave readers a voice within the pages as his discovery of his new world matched pace with the readers unveiling.
My only concern with this novel was the pacing. While the first three quarters felt natural and progressed at what felt to be natural speeds, the last quarter felt rushed jam-packed in a jarring way.
It struck me like a college essay that realized they were nearing their word count and were desperate to cram in all in. Unfortunately, this meant that areas such as Quentin's self-exploration, the heart of the Vandermark curse, and the events of the final chapter felt under-explored and more tacked on. I would gladly have taken extra time reading to see these event more fully fleshed out and the characters given a more natural unfolding.
All in all this was a solid read and a definite consideration for anyone on your Christmas list with a taste for Christian/historical/women's fiction.
4 out of 5 stars
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the Nuts About Books book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.